Something caught my attention as I was browsing the Music City Miracles blog. Jimmy Morris brought up an interview segment that Chris Johnson had done with Jim Rome. From jimrome.com, Johnson had an interesting perspective on sharing carries with recently-acquired running back Shonn Greene. According to Johnson:
“At the end of the day you want to stay in there. [But] I’d rather have 2,000 yards than have 20 touchdowns, so you got to take the good with the bad.”
The obsession with 2,000 remains alive and well. During the 2009-10 NFL season, Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards. That season ended with an 8-8 record and was the first of four consecutive playoff-less seasons. The Titans will try to end that streak during the 2013-14 season.
Is it better if Johnson returns to CJ2K form or if he became CJ20TD? My initial reaction was that yards don’t win games. That’s accomplished with offensive scores and defensive stops. All the evidence that one needs comes from the 2009-10 season.
Running backs who’ve had 20-touchdown seasons have their own special place in NFL history. There have only been 11 instances when a running back scored at least 20 rushing touchdowns in a single season. LaDanian Tomlinson was the last player to accomplish that feat. He had an NFL-record 28 rushing touchdowns during the 2006-07 season.
Another way of looking at it is that 2,000 yards would put the Titans in more scoring situations. This would help establish a balanced offense and eliminate the amount of time that the defense is on the field. Greene would probably play the role of LenDale White when he had 15 rushing touchdowns during the 2008-09 season. The Titans finished that season with a 13-3 record and the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
Maybe this answer comes down to how those 2,000 rushing yards are distributed? An example comes from the Week 15 regular-season game against the New York Jets. Johnson had 21 carries for 122 yards. 94 of those yards came on a touchdown run. That meant his other 20 carries went for 28 yards. His lack of productivity stalled the offense as they didn’t score more than 14 points.
It’s important to maintain that 3.4-yard average over as many carries as possible. Remember that 3.4 x 3 = 10.2 yards—a first down. This sets up second-and-manageable and third-and-short.
What do Titan Sized readers believe? If you had the choice of Johnson rushing for 2,000-plus yards or scoring 20-plus touchdowns, which do you take? Answer in the poll below and comment via Facebook, Twitter or Disqus.